Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We don't witness because we see only downsides; yet many will go to their graves without faith unless lay people preach the Gospel by word and deed

Monday of 10th Week in Course

7 June 2010

You Will Be My Witnesses

Why do we hesitate to boldly share our faith with those we meet? I think the reason is that we see only personal downsides to the action. Elijah spoke the word of God to the king of Israel. We’ve forgotten the king, but we remember his evil, pagan wife–Jezebel was her name. The first word of the Lord to Elijah after prophesying a long drought was “get out of town.” Persecution followed for years. Jesus experienced it, and predicted that we, his followers would, too.

Archbishop Gomez advises us to be heedless of the difficulties: he reminds us that from the beginning, lay people “evangelized alongside the Apostles and assisted them in their priestly and sacramental ministries. Married couples, such as Aquila and Priscilla, were engaged in missionary work and apologetics.” The Gospel is effective, but it must be preached. The early Church heard the call and “within the lifetime of the Apostles, the Gospel of Jesus Christ had spread to every corner of the then-known world. Within three hundred years, the Roman Empire had been converted and the foundations of a Christian civilization . . .had been laid. All by the proclamation of the Word of God by men and women who had been touched by that Word and were zealous for others to hear it.” (8)

The lay apostle–and that means every lay person who can still fog a mirror–must have a “priestly soul.” (9) Every baptized believer is anointed prophet, priest and leader. In this we all mirror Christ, the chief prophet, priest and leader. There are two priesthoods in the Church. The first we all share, as Peter wrote: “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. . .” We all share in the mission to be the people of the Beatitudes, poor in spirit, meek, mourning over the condition of the world, peacemakers. “Everyone in the Church shares in Christ’s priesthood, his offering of himself in love for the life of the world. Each of us who has been baptized has” that priestly soul. As lay people, you are called to “offer your daily work and prayer as a spiritual sacrifice of praise to God. You are called to live and work for God in a spirit of love, with a desire to serve him in all things and . .help the souls around you.” The laity are on the “frontlines of the culture, living in the very heart of the world.” Our apostolic mission–your apostolic mission–is not some optional add-on that gets us extra credit in heaven. It is a critical part of our Christian calling.

“The people you meet in your community or in your daily work may not hear the Gospel if they do not hear it from you. They may not see an example of Christian living unless they see it from you.”

Let’s get practical here. On what I call the zeroeth level of Christian mission, we must avoid unChristian behavior in our work. If someone is telling an off-color or irreverent story or joke, we have a responsibility to excuse ourselves, or even suggest that the activity is inappropriate. Beyond that, suppose something goes well at work. It is not out of place or illegal to say, “praise God.” Or “Thank God.” But if something goes badly, it would be an even more effective witness not only to avoid cursing, but to say, “thank God it wasn’t worse.” Take advantage of circumstances to witness Christ.

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